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In Texas Heat, Scrimmage Is At Dawn

Every year at this time, thousands of Texas teen-agers begin practicing for the state's favorite pastime, football. But with the unbearable heat that has dried up the state, high school football practice won't be the same.

Weeks of triple-digit temperatures have been the norm in much of the state, a red flag condition signaling that schools and coaches must make concessions to keep youngsters safe.

For example, at Dallas Academy, a private secondary school of 140 students, football players must show up at 6:45 a.m. instead of the traditional 3 p.m. practice time.

School Director Jim Richardson said Thursday, "They're wearing pads and helmets; we don't want anyone to have a heat stroke out there."

For 25 straight days, the heat in northern Texas has topped 100 degrees, with no cooling in sight. Statewide, the unmerciless heat has been blamed for 99 deaths.

Nationwide, at least 144 deaths are blamed on the heat wave since May.

Farmers and wild life are the hardest-hit, reports CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod. Texas farmers are expected to get between $500,000 and $700,000 in federal crop aid.

But with August appraoching, concern is turning to school safety, particularly for Texas' atheletes.

On Thursday at Plano High School in Texas, temperatures hit 103 degrees as young band members stood in formation on hot asphalt under the blazing sun.

"It's hot and it's unbearable," said trumpeter Patrick Shay, who with his bandmates took water breaks every 20 minutes.

At St. Mark's School of Texas in Dallas, football players, "are going to be out early in the morning, they'll be in an air-conditioned building in the middle of the day, and then maybe they'll go out again later," said Jim Kirkpatrick, chief financial officer at the all-boys school. He also said all outdoor activities will be limited on days when either the heat or pollution is deemed too heavy to be safe for the boys.

"It's just too much for them, especially the young kids who don't realize they're drying up," Kirkpatrick said. "There are many kids who have respiratory problems. You have to watch out for them."

Health officals are warning people to drink plenty of water, and that goes for everyone: children, elderly people, and those who must be outdoors, as well as the teenage football players and band members.

Normally, Texas schools open up several weeks before Labor Day. With many set to open up Monday, most youngsters will be going back to school in the withering heat.